Amendments to be tabled to social security bill banning private companies undertaking assessments on disabled people
Moves are being made to ban cash-raking companies from carrying out despised and humiliating benefits assessments.
A Labour MSP has tabled amendments to the social security bill in a bid block private contractors from ruling on whether people should be paid the new Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
The move comes as campaigners again attacked the Scotish Government over its failure to halt "inhumane" disability assesments.
Mark Griffin, Labour’s social security spokesperson, warned an estimated 140,000 Scots will be assessed for PIP by the time a Scottish social security system is in place.
And he vowed: "Labour will seek to change the law in the Scottish Parliament to use the new social security powers of the Scottish Parliament to kick the private sector out of our social security system."
Last month TFN revealed how the despised assessments would continue wreaking misery on disabled Scots despite new welfare powers allowing the Scottish Government to halt them.
PIP tests are carried out by Atos and Capita while much of the Scottish work is completed by Atos contractors Salus, a branch of NHS Lanarkshire.
Assessments have been blamed for people taking their own lives as well as heaping stress, anxiety and depression on already vulnerable claimants.
But social security minister Jeane Freeman said she would allow the DWP to continue to undertake the process saying a new Scots’ system would be in place by 2021.
Griffin said: "We can end these cruel and inhumane assessments that have piled misery on vulnerable Scots.
"The SNP’s decision to delay the powers means that 140,000 Scots will be assessed under the current system – that is why Labour wants it ensured in law that there is no place for private contractors in Scotland’s social security system.
“The Scottish Parliament can radically change Scotland to create a fairer, better country for all of us, it’s time to move beyond the warm words on social security and use the powers we have.”
Craig Happendon of the Anti-Cuts Alliance said the figures proved that while a new social security system was eagerly anticipated, Scottish ministers had to do more to halt the “inhumanity” of the current assessment regime.
“The Scottish Government talks about creating a fairer system but it is doing nothing to stop the inhumanity of these assessments.
“There are a lot of warm words being spoken and a lot of political capital made around this while thousands of disabled people suffer. Why won’t the government stop the assessments now?
“Ministers need challenged on this. The Scottish Government is failing disabled people.”
However, Jeane Freeman said that the new system would treat “everyone… with dignity and respect in every aspect” and that no one would lose out in the transfer of payments.
She added: “It would make more sense for amendments to be talked about when the social security bill is introduced and scrutinised in the Scottish Parliament at the end of June.”
Last month, the Scottish Government’s own consultation on social security revealed a “strong consensus that services should not be delivered through the private sector or profit making agencies, with the majority of respondents in agreement that social security should be delivered through existing public sector or third sector organisations.”
Bill Scott, director of policy at Inclusion Scotland, said not all of the 140,000 will lose money on being re-assessed for PIP but all will potentially experience stress through being subjected to the assessment process.
“Some will stay on the same amount of benefits, a few will see an increase in the amount that they receive and a substantial proportion will lose some or all of their benefits,” he said.
“The total number projected to lose some or all benefits on being reassessed is 105,000 (55% of those being transferred) which means approximately 70,000 or so have already been transferred.
“So based on projections around 75,000 of the 140,000 still awaiting transfer will lose some or all of their entitlement when they are reassessed for PIP.
“All of them will probably experience stress and worry though.”